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Jon Sack, Ph.D.
In living cells, electrical signals control a cornucopia of important physiological processes including neurotransmission, insulin secretion, and heartbeat. Electrophysiological signals are generated by proteins known as ion channels. Different cell types harbor distinct complements of channels, tuned to serve the particular functions of a cell. Establishing the identity of proteins underlying endogenous ionic currents in any particular cell type has been particularly challenging problem. Mammalian voltage-gated potassium channels are exemplars of protein diversity. They arise from a family of more than 40 genes encoding pore-forming subunits, many of which can co-assemble into functionally distinct heterotetramers, which then recruit a variety of modulatory subunits. There are no selective inhibitors for most of these proteins, and more advanced tools are needed to identify the channels underlying endogenous potassium currents. The Sack laboratory is developing serial strategies to molecularly identify the channels that underlie important yet unidentified ionic currents. By using engineering biologic macromolecules and implementing ligand evolution strategies, we are developing novel means to target specific potassium channel gene products. The new biochemical tools are being used to probe the physiological function of specific ion channel proteins, and modulate cellular electrical signaling.
Ph.D., Stanford University, Department of Biological Sciences
B.A., Reed College, Biochemistry
Department of Physiology & Membrane Biology
School of Medicine
University of California
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One Shields Avenue
Davis, California 95616
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